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Thread: tiling the ceiling

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    DIY Junior Member sue4072's Avatar
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    Default tiling the ceiling

    we are planning to have rainshower installed in the ceiling over the tub. Do we have to tile the ceiling or it is ok with nice mildew resistant paint? please help us to decide.

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Tiling a ceiling is a challenging job. I don't bother with mildew resistant paint, because if you don't have good ventilation, it will mildew anyway, in time.

    Invest your money in top quality high gloss 100% acrylic paint, and a minumum of 110 CFM, maximum 1 sone exhaust fan.

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    DIY Junior Member sue4072's Avatar
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    thanks jimbo. We already have 110 cfm fan there.
    Last edited by sue4072; 08-18-2010 at 07:07 AM.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    A rain shower head is probably no different than a conventional one coming out of the wall, and in fact, might be less prone to splashing the ceiling since the stream coming out of it is often at a lower velocity.

    If you do decide to tile the ceiling, the trick is to build up a bulge in the thinset around the outside (sort of like the edge of a suction cup), and when you smush it onto the ceiling, you'll trap some air and it won't come off! You don't want to use this technique on the floor, since you won't have full coverage, but on a ceiling, it works fine (unless the tile is translucent, then the lack of full coverage might be visible).
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Junior Member sue4072's Avatar
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    thanks. We will keep that in mind if we decide on tiling the ceiling.

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    DIY Member TWEAK's Avatar
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    Don't worry about tiling the ceiling. It's not a big deal. Use a modified thinset (Versabond from Home Depot is fine). Modified thinsets are noticeably stickier than regular thinsets.

    The key is the surface. Fresh drywall (not greenboard) works real well for a ceiling. IT's best not to prime it or paint it. Just leave it raw. Especially, don't use PVA drywall primer. Thinset doesn't stick well to that stuff. If it's already painted, hit it with an orbital sander to scar it up, then tile over the paint as long as it looks sound. and not easy to peel off. If the drywall is raw, you shouldn't tape the drywall seams because regular all-purpose drywall compound will re-soften from the water in the mortar and you may lose a tile there. If you've already taped the seams, or are concerned about the surface, still no worries. Get a small container of Custom Building Products' Redgard and put two coats where you will be tiling. Let the first coat dry (it goes from pink to red when it's dry) and then apply the second. After it turns red you're ready to tile. Tile directly over the Redgard. This stuff is both a crack isolation membrane and a waterproofer (if applied thick enough) but in this case you're just using it to create a nice tile-friendly surface. If you like overkilling things, you could apply Kerdi or Wonderboard to the ceiling but it's really not needed.

    Lots of people promote the suction cup idea of building the ridge. I don't like it. First of all, it isn't necessary. Trowel the thinset onto the ceiling using the proper size square notched trowel for your tile size. Then - very important - flat skim the back of EACH TILE before you set it. This takes a little longer, but you will get great coverage and nothing will go anywhere. Pull off a tile every so often and make sure that you're getting good coverage. If you have good coverage, then you automatically have a vacuum there. If you're taking your time, and the thinset you've troweled out starts to dry out (doesn't feel sticky to the touch) scrape it off and put on some fresh. You will have no problems.

    The other problem with the thinset ridge/suction cup plan is that you get poor coverage. If you lose a ceiling tile, it is likely to crack or chip whatever it falls on. Sometimes that's a shower floor tile, sometimes it is a $2500 cast iron bathtub. Any type of adhesive bond joint (thinset is essentially an adhesive) depends on surface area bonded... so you want good coverage.

    The worst part of the job is grouting. It's a mess... wear a hat and old clothes & shoes. Grout falls like mad. Pesky gravity.
    Last edited by TWEAK; 08-20-2010 at 08:03 PM.

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    TWEAK: Thank you very much for the excellent info about tiling a ceiling. For me personally, your information explains very well why I never tiled a ceiling, and now I know why!!! But for someone who is so inclined, they have the knowledge now to do it well.

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    DIY Junior Member sue4072's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info. We have to build a boxin the ceiling to accommodate the rain shower. Plumber suggested that having the water pipes coming thru attic might cause it to freeze in winter So after we build a box we are planning to put wedi board, excellent material which we will be using for the tub surround. We have used this material in the other bathroom, we love it!
    I can just imagine about grouting the pain it is going to cause lol

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If you can run the pipe along the top of the ceiling, burried under the insulation, I doubt it would ever freeze unless your heat went out, then, all bets are off anywhere in the house! Put it on top of the insulation, and that's a different story altogether. Now, if it went up an outside wall, that might be an issue.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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